In order to create a healthier environment in our homes, we need to understand that the majority of household items we use on a daily basis emit a substantial level of toxins. The accumulation of these toxins in the home eventually enter our bodies through the nose, mouth, skin, and eyes and will slowly but surely deteriorate our health.
The good news is you can upgrade some of these items very easily so you don’t have to deal with the symptoms associated with rising toxin levels in your home. Not only that, you will feel more relaxed, refreshed, and alert on a day to day basis due to some simple switches.
So where do you start? Due to the amount of use and/or level of toxicity, I would suggest starting with these 4 items.
With the forced transition from incandescent light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, many of us were led to believe that CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) were the most obvious choice for our lighting needs. From an energy efficiency standpoint that may be true, but the negative impact these bulbs can have on your health (and the environment) make CFLs a poor choice.
For starters, CFLs are filled with mercury and when heated up (turned on) they can subtly fill a room with toxic vapours that eventually can cause otherwise unexplainable symptoms. Additionally, if one of these bulbs happen to break indoors they can release an amount of mercury that exceeds EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards, to the tune of 20 times the maximum acceptable mercury concentration in the air. In fact, they have created an emergency protocol you need to follow in case of breakage, due to the amount of poisonous gas that is released.
Mercury is a known neurotoxin, and is especially dangerous to pregnant women and children. It is also toxic to the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and the cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive systems.
Although the chances of breaking one of these bulbs indoors is relatively slim, you must also consider the environmental consequences of these bulbs filling landfills where they eventually will be shattered and their contents released.
Another lesser known consequence is the amount of EMFs or dirty electricity these bulbs emit inside your home. This is the same type of EMFs produced by cell phones and towers, computers, WiFi, and high power lines that are now just gaining recognition as a seriously omnipresent health threat.
CFLs may not be a potent threat when used in outdoor lighting situations, but when a number of them are used indoors their accumulative effects can be a menace to your health, as they have been associated with dizziness, headaches, migraines, seizures, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and anxiety.
The bottom line is that CFLs have real health threats associated with them, and should be upgraded to less harmful lighting solutions such as halogen or LED lights. In addition to that, consider sky lights and open up the curtains during daylight hours to help bring more natural lighting into your home.
A more generally accepted transition for individuals when it comes to cleaning up their home is household cleaners. Many highly marketed brands of cleaners contain a toxic cocktail of chemical ingredients that quite simply leave many people nauseous at the very opening of the containers.
With inhalation being a direct route to many areas of the body, including the liver and brain, these toxic cleaners can cause a variety of subtle (and not so subtle) health issues ranging from headaches to general nausea. Chemical sensitivity has also become a common complaint with people today, and using these toxic products in an indoor environment is conceivably a major part of the problem.
In fact, some cleaners are the most toxic products found in our home. In 2000, cleaning products were responsible for nearly 10% of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers, accounting for 206,636 calls, of which nearly 60% involved children under the age of 6.
The most acutely dangerous products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. Ingredients to watch for and avoid in cleaning products include but are not limited to chlorine bleach, ammonia, fragrances, diethanolamine (DEA), and triethanolamine (TEA).
Aside from immediate symptoms such as chemical burns, watering eyes, and respiratory irritation, these chemicals can cause more long term negative health effects such as asthma, hormone disruption (such as decreased sperm counts), and cancer.
The great news is that there are some very simple upgrades you can choose that don’t carry any real health risks. This can be as simple as vinegar and water, or using essential oils (naturally anti-bacterial, viral, and fungal in nature) like lavender or cinnamon in water. This will work for most surfaces, and also leave a naturally occurring fragrance that might almost make cleaning your home enjoyable!
A household item many don’t consider, but since you spend a third of your life on one, a toxin free mattress is something to strongly consider as a potential upgrade in your home.
Th biggest concern in your mattress is the presence of fire retardant chemicals, which are used due to the the fact that most conventional mattresses contain polyurethane foam, a highly flammable petroleum based material. These chemicals have been linked to serious health risks, including infertility, birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays, behavioural problems in children, hormone disruption, and various forms of cancer.
Since these mattresses off-gas these chemicals (leak out) over time, their health risks are not often immediately noticed. However, this does not mean they are not significant! It is estimated that 90% of American have some level of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies due to the collection of these chemicals in house dust and the air, and these chemicals have been identified as one of 17 high priority chemical groups to avoid to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
In addition to these chemicals, there is also another health compromising factor in mattresses with sleep technology that requires electrical wiring within the mattress and/or frame. This essentially raises your exposure to EMFs (much like electric blankets will do), which has its own set of health consequences, one often being compromised sleep.
If your mattress is over 7 years old chances are its due for an upgrade for many reasons, including excessive accumulation of bio-toxins like dust mites. If you are due for an upgrade choose a high quality mattress with no chemical fillers, and skip the sleep technology that wires up the bed. While you’re at it, get a good pillow too!
This type of mattress is not an easy find, but you can check out some high quality mattresses (and pillows) here, and have them delivered right to your door!
If you decide to purchase a new mattress or stick with your current one, understanding how to maintain your mattress is paramount to keeping out those fire retardant chemicals. Mattress cleaning has such an impressive effect on the health of people sleeping on mattresses before and after their deep clean of their mattresses.
Another household item many consider (and for good reason) is a water filter. It is now becoming obvious that the destructive nature of fluoride, VOC’s, and other chemicals pose a significant health risk, especially to brain and thyroid function. With most of us using water chemically treated by our municipality, this is one of the most widespread toxic threats in your home.
Now this doesn’t just apply to your drinking water, but to the water you bathe in as well. Both pose the same types of risks, whether it is ingested or absorbed through the skin. This makes the need for a good drinking water and shower filter a necessity for any home using a contaminated (municipal or unverified) water supply.Get the Big Berkey Water Filtration system
Of course, the list doesn’t stop there when it comes to removing toxins from our home. However, it is a great start and will significantly reduce your toxic load in your humble abode.
Sources for this article include:
How To Avoid Health Hazards of Lighting
Energy Efficient Bulbs Cause Anxiety, Migraines, and Even Cancer. Reasons to Go Back To Incandescent Bulbs
How Toxic Are your Household Cleaning Supplies?
What’s Hiding In Your Mattress?